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* Life Story of Miss 
Mae McKei.iie 


Life Story of Miss Mae McKenzi 

TIME is the story writer of millions of 
human lives. Sometimes the lives are 
long in years, but the story is short; and 
sometimes the lives are short in years, and 
the story to be told is long — not so long per- 
haps in words as in a few deeds or even 
one deed that reaches away into eternity and 
helps thousands to live and act nobly. Our 
story is about one whose years of service 
were not long, but whose life and deeds were 
golden and whose crowning days were her 
last upon earth. 

The story that we are to tell is about Miss 
Mae McKenzie, one of our first deaconesses. 
She was born into a Christian home down 
in the little town of Americus, Ga., and the 
being a missionary deaconess was not to 
her a sudden revelation from above, for she 
grew up a missionary. As a child she was an 
active member in her home Church and 
served in all of the offices of the Junior 
Missionary Society. She was so interested 
and capable that when the members of the 
Adult Missionary Society of the Americus 
District wanted anything done and there was 
no one else to do it, they would laughing- 
ly say: "Well, Mae McKenzie or Lee Crit- 
tenden [who afterwards also became a dea- 
coness] will do it for us." 

When Mae McKenzie was quite a young 
girl; her mother was taken away, and she 

became the home maker. This meant the 
indefinite postponement of her ambition to 
secure a college education. Finally, when 
he family cares grew less, again she found 
ner joy and delight in the work of the 
Church. During the time that Rev. George 

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Matthews was pastor of her Church God 
came to her in a very special way and spoke 
to her heart, and anew she consecrated her 
life with a great willingness to serve wher- 
ever God might call. 

In May of 1900 Mrs. MacDonell, the Sec- 
retary of our Woman's Home Mission Board, 
was visiting in Americus; and Brother Mat- 
thews told her that Miss Mae McKenzie very 
much desired a conference with her. The 
Secretary says that when she recalls the in- 
cident of their meeting her heart glows with 
the thought of God's unusual presence with 
them. At the church the previous Sunday S, 
call had come for a worker among the child 
widows of India, and Miss Mae McKenzie had 
been singled out by the speaker as the one' 
that God needed for that work. The ques- 
tion she asked the Secretary was: "Is that a 
call from God?" The Secretary answered: 
"If you have never thought seriously of go- 
ing to the foreign field as a missionary, there 
is every reason why you should do so now." 
The result of that conference was the en- 
trance of Miss McKenzie into training for 
service. The field and the time were left 
for God's later direction. 

She went to Wesleyan College and was 
there for three years. This required some 
courage, for she was older than most of the 
other students. While there she was a lead- 
er in the religious life of the school and 
was a benediction to every member. During 
her third year she became very ill with 
pneumonia, which was followed by serious 
heart trouble, and the doctor told her frankly 

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that she Could never go to the foreign field. 

The family had moved to Rome, Ga. When 
she tried to plan for her life work, the 
people of the cotton mill district in Rome 
began to make their appeal. This led to 
her opening work among them. As she 
worked she became stronger and began to 
think of the possibilities of becoming a dea- 
coness. She wrote to her friend, the Home 
Mission Secretary, who in turn wrote to a 
friend in Macon. By return mail there came 
a check to bear the cost for the first year* 
of her training in the Scarritt Bible and 
Training School. She finished her course 
and was consecrated to the order of deacon- 
ess, although it was well known that her del- 
icate health would not permit of an appoint- 
ment where the work would be strenuous. 

Her first appointment came in the year that 
the Woman's Board of Home Missions held 
its meeting in Houston, Tex. There came 
before the Deaconess Committee at that t'me 
the pastor of the Church at Crossett, Ark. 
He came asking for a deaconess to work 
among the people of the lumber camp in 
Crossett. The description of what he want- 
ed was met in Miss Mae McKenzie, the only 
lack being the physical strength. When Miss 
Mary Helm, a member of the committee, 
turned to him with a searching question as 
to the possibility of using a great spirit in 
a physical body which was not strong enough 
to meet ordinary life, he promptly replied r 
"We can use a frail deaconess at Crossett 
better than you can use her in the city, be- 
cause she will have an automobile and can 


go from camp to camp, whereas in a city she 
would be obliged to walk." When the pas- 
tor left, the members looked from one to 
the other and with hushed voices said: "Mae 
McKenzie." And this was her appointment. 

It was with a heart of joy that she went 
to her first appointment, joy because her 
dream was made real; and now she was to 
serve a people who needed her and to serve 
the Church as one of its messengers. 

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Soon she came to love the people, and 
they in turn loved her gentle spirit, which 
attracted even the rough men of the camp, 
making them always kind and considerate 
when in her presence. She organized the 
boys into a Baraca Class and taught them 
in a night school. She went in and out 
among the homes of the camp, acting as 
friend to the mothers and big sister to the 
children and frequently playing nurse to the 
little sick babies. Often on her visits from 
house to house she would have to stop and 
sit down on the lumber to rest. Everywhere 
the people saw her she was greeted with the 
loving words, "Our deaconess, Miss Mae." 

For eighteen happy months she lived in the 
lumber camp, and these months made record 
of a great service of loving deeds; but at 
their end the heart trouble returned, and 
soon she and every one else knew that she 
could not recover. 

Then came the recording of the crowning 
deeds of her life, for she was unafraid as 
she approached the day when she should 
meet her Master, and her whole thought 
was for those she loved. A friend who writes 
of her three last hours says: 

"As soon as it became known that our 
beloved deaconess was dying the people be- 
gan to come to see her. She sat up in bed 
and called each one by name and had mes- 
sages for every one. Her Baraca boys were 
all there and many other young men whom 
she had tried in vain to get into her class. 
Her overwhelming desire to sare souls i tayed 
with her to the last, and a number of them 


promised to become Christians. To one who 
said, 'I will try,' she said, 'Don't say "I 
will try," say "I will." Repeat it after me: 
"I can, and I will." ' The young man, with 
sobs, did say it. To numbers of others she 
gave like messages, while men, women, and 
children stood in awe and listened. 

"Fully two hundred persons passed 
through her room during the three hours. 
She spoke to every one of them. It seemed 
to all of us to be a glimpse of heaven. She 
said over and over again: 'I always knew it 
would be all right, but I never knew it 
would be so sweet to go. It is so sweet; it is 
ho sweet.' 

"She wrought great good in Crossett dur- 
ing her work of a year and a half. She did 
more in her short stay than most people do in 
a lifetime. 

"On the next afternoon her Baraca boys, 
wearing the arm bands she had given them 
Christmas, carried her to the church, where 
the service was held. The church could not 
hold the people. All classes came. Brother 
Hannon, the pastor, talked from Revelation 
xiv. 13. When he asked those of the boys 
who would stand with him and pledge them- 
selves to be better and stronger men for 
her sake, it was a sight to make angels re- 
joice to see eighteen fine young men stand- 

And Mae McKenzie, one of our pioneer 
deaconesses, out in a Western lumber camp, 
made the service of eighteen months stretch 
away into the years. 

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